Monday, October 31, 2011


After a couple of days home with my mum we returned to enjoy a weekend with Mr Pickle. The weather was far from glorious so lots of indoor pursuits were enjoyed. A bit of this:

Lots of admiring these popping up all over the garden:

 A call from friends to say they were in town with their new baby and popping by for afternoon tea meant a quick present was conjured:

 And the Big Pickle discovered the calming powers of baby nursing:

The Spring table finally took shape:

 Particularly thanks to these little felt wonders made by a Chilean woman I met at the Footscray City Primary School Festa the previous weekend.


 Sadly, after a wonderful Festa and a day showcasing a school which had both mainstream and Steiner curriculum streams on offer, the community is now reeling from the announcement that the Department of Education has decided to cease the Steiner stream at the end of the year. One hundred and fifty children and their families are now facing an unenviable and challenging task of finding a new school for their children. If this is an issue that concerns you, you can read more and sign a petition here.

Back in our little world, the dining setting got a makeover

A little trip to Spotlight, a bit of time at the machine and the chairs went from this to this

 And through it all the house had a beautiful perfume wafting from these beautys which hitched a ride back from mum's. Her rose garden is in full and magnificent bloom at the moment and I'm looking forward to seeing it again this weekend when we return for the Colac Show.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Come back sunshine - we miss you!

There is no more calming a place than the beach for the two Pickles. All the bustle and the noise of everywhere else just disappears. Summer seemed too far away this year so thanks to the inspiration of a dear friend who has beach-going ingrained in her psyche, we have now found our own little beach routine. At the first sign of sun we pack up a few things (mostly food!) and make the 10 min car trip to Williamstown beach.

Space, water and at this time of year hardly any other people, allows all they need to roam and paddle and ponder starfish, shells, anemones.....

Practise some climbing skills....

 And finish with an icecream treat!

Spring in Melbourne - its a curious thing. Icecreams and swimming one day, woolen hats and umbrellas the next.
Thanks to my sister we now have an arsenal of new buckets and spades so next sign of warm sunshine and we will be back on that sand!! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yarn Along

So many babies being born around us at the moment so plenty of homes to send duck families to.
Quick to knit, calming and fun to sew up....definitely my go to gift at the moment.
Some pigs and sheep on the needles too that I must get quacking on (awful joke sorry!)

The book is a sign of my current and quite constant pondering of what form, style, shape education will take for this family.
A beautiful, accessible book which provides an eye into one particular Steiner school and helps a Steiner beginner like me understand the curriculum and all its motivations and wonders.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Little White Shirt

Back when Little Pickle was just seven months old we were invited to a Thailand. What do you dress a baby in for a wedding when the expected temperature is around 42 degrees and humid?  Pants made from an organic cotton just the same shade as his fathers bestman pants were an easy choice and then a piece of white cotton from the stash was definitely the right fabric for a top but what style, what pattern?
For months I'd been perusing my mum's old Enid Gilchrist books and with another flick through the one called Toddler's Clothes I found the perfect thing - a kurta top that was perfect on the day and has served us well beyond.

Whether on a hot summers day in the backyard at 18 months,

Or at the beach this week on my nearly two year old boy, this shirt has been a good friend and I'm sad to admit it is a little on the small side now. No matter, there is more of this fabric in the stash and this time I'll take the time to add a button loop and a little vintage sailboat button I've been saving. I'll also be sure to make it big enough to serve a few more summers. Perhaps we'll make one or two more in other fabrics too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yarn Along Wednesday

I have seen this cookbook on various blogs and admired and researched it online for quite sometime. One recent evening as I wandered the hallowed halls of Costco (ostensibly collecting some photos but really having a much needed, child-free wind-down at the end of a long day) I found it waiting for me at the very reasonable price of $19! So home it came and we have been getting to know each other all week.
Our first encounter was an exercise in life not imitating art:
Is really not this

Look at the height and the fluffiness in that picture! Amazingly my flat overcooked brick-like objects actually tasted quite good and were certainly enticing enough to convince me to try again.
I've earmarked lots of other dishes in this but last night we had this:

As the weather here starts to become more springlike (heading to the beach to enjoy 28 degrees this morning) many knitting projects are moving further from mind. However, this one has been waiting for a while and the knitting part of the project shouldn't take too long at all. A black I-cord is all I need to complete, one long one or possibly a few shorter ones. I made this necklace several years ago now and it has remained a favourite but after enduring two sets of little hands and very regular wearing it is in need of an overhaul. The I-cord will replace some of the braoken leather sections and serve as a trial for future jewellery pieces.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Now that's an Iris!!

My mother is an exceptionally good gardener and her garden is a wonder to behold. Whilst I feel that I have definitely inherited her love of gardening, I just haven't managed to really achieve great things in this area of my life yet.
Having flowers inside is something I really love and something that always makes me feel very settled but I always struggle to justify spending money on cut flowers. So, with that in mind I put several packets of flower seeds into the front garden a few months ago in the hope that I could have my own blooms to cut. Delphiniums, red poppies and blue love in the mist were going to adorn my vases for months........ Lack of attention, failure to diligently water....possible lack of green thumb.....who knows why but I haven't seen any sign of those seeds.

What I do have are these beauties in abundance. Mum gave me a whole bucket full of her iris bulbs a couple of years ago and I didn't have a lot of success with them last year but this spring they are blooming everywhere. The burgundy ones are dominating at the moment but there are a whole lot of the lemoney cream ones coming and some stunning pale blues too.
 I argued with myself for several hours this morning about whether to leave them adorning the garden or bring some inside. In the end I couldn't resist cutting a handful to bring in and it turns out a little goes a long way with these strong characters so I have some in and some out.

Somehow having these on my buffet also provided the inspiration I needed to get my spring nature table in shape too. 

Like most of my tables it's an interesting collection of seemingly unrelated items but they all tie in to what spring is bringing us.....a boat for water play, candles and lanterns to celebrate the lengthening evenings, snowdrops and sage flowers from different parts of the garden, shells from our increasingly regular jaunts to the beach, a wreath to remind us to start planning for the Christmas season........

Friday, October 14, 2011

Big Pickle Pants

Making a pair of jeans for the Big Pickle was definitely the most ambitious project I had set out on in a while. It was also my first project from the one year subscriptions worth of fabulous Ottobre magazines I had been pouring over for the past 18 months.

When I spotted the "Huomio" worker pants in the Spring 1/2010 edition I knew the large pocket details would be a perfect way to showcase one of the great Japanese transport prints from Superbuzzy I'd been gazing at in my cupboard for months. Sadly, none of them are still available but they do have a different colourway of the train one still. This store is one of my fabric online fabric haunts but I have only ever made the one purchase as their postage rates are horrific.

With extensive topstitching (something my machine and I still need to work on), a zipper fly (my first one), keepers, waistband, a contrast yoke and the cuffs (a detail I decided to add to ensure this complex project could be worn for as long as possible) this was a full days work. 
Amazingly, I actually got a full day to work on them thanks to a bonding day between the Pickles and their dad.

I didn't actually do a great deal of fitting during the making process other than slipping one leg up over the Pickles long lanky limb and determining that they seemed to be a good match. A couple of days after finishing them I put them on him for their first outing. All was good until he went to sit down - 'they hurt my tummy a bit mummy. They're too tight'. This mama is ashamed to report that pressed for time to get out the door to playgroup and really keen for him to wear them, I undid the waist button and said 'how's that?'. 'Better' he said. 'Good' said I, 'just try not to sit down too much'. Since then I have removed the waistband and replaced it with a wider, longer one that he finds much more comfortable.

 As soon as I saw this great car print, I knew it would really appeal to the Big Pickle and also knew it had to be teamed with some of the grey cotton canvas fabric I had previously used in a pair of the Little Pickles pants. It took some searching, Amitie no longer had it,  but I eventually tracked this down again through Duckcloth. I highly recommend this range of fabrics as they are great to sew with, durable and come in great colours.

 I used this pattern for these pants, the flat front version, and extended it to match Big Pickle's measurements. The cuff was an add-on so that I could have a bit more of the car print and also to create further longevity for this ever growing boy. When I had cut the pieces out they looked really skinny. Luckily, probably because I was sewing at my mum's house, I investigated further and by comparing them to some other pants of his I could see these were just not going to be wide enough at the top to cover even his very compact bottom. Mum's wisdom allowed me to avoid panicking and going into a conniption of sadness at the possibility of wasting any of the precious fabric and on her ingenious suggestion I cut the strip to go down the side. Any concerns that I had now created some very lairy pants were alleviated by his declaration that they are 'funky pants' and a plea to not only wear them straight away but also have his photo taken in them.

As you can see he's rocking his funky pants and quite duly loving himself in them!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where's the keys?

 My favourite crafting projects are always the ones that combine the creative and the practical.
The first lanyard I made was to fulfill my own need of finding a way to stop losing my keys everytime I needed them and also a way of having them on hand but not in my hand when I was transferring the Pickles in and out of the car. I also find them great for a quick run into the shops without a bag - purse in one hand, toddlers hand in the other and keys safely dangling around my neck.

 Originally my lanyards were all very bright and mostly print fabrics but lately I've toned them down a bit, using linen and solids to allow space for button details and other things like doily flowers.
The one above I made for a friend and the colours are very 'her' - she is quietly fuming that I just wrote that!! Hers got lots of handstitching, special buttons and choice fabrics cause she's a bit special.

My mum got a very late birthday present this year because I refused to just buy her something and instead took forever to finally sit down and make this one. To make up for the late delivery I made her a matching linen boxbag.

Again there was a doily flower detail (think these might turn up on lots of my future ones) and some special buttons. The pink flowers were ones that mum made and gave to me some time ago. She hand-dyed the silk ribbons which make up the petals and the flower centres are made up of dozens of her impeccable french knots - oh how I wish I could do them as well as her.I admit I was initially disconcerted when she chose not to use them for her keys but rather her best embroidery scissors. Quickly though I realised this is kind of the equivalent of 'straight to the trophy room' - in her eyes using it for keys would be a waste and since sewing is her greatest love, I can only be flattered.

So many fabric combinations and embellishment ideas are dancing in my head for future lanyards so Bec, if you're out there and if those New Gisborners are still asking where you got your lanyard perhaps I could get inspired and make some more for you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Off to the Fair

 We recently enjoyed the Spring Fair for Oli's playgroup - their version of a Fete. As like all Fetes a great deal of preparation and planning goes into the day. One of the loveliest things (for this crafting mama) about the Spring Fair is that it has a Craft stall which sells things made by all the parents and families. Last year I enjoyed making quite a few things for the stall but this year I decided to focus my energies on making little treasures and trinkets for a wonderful thing called Mrs Pockets.
A friend and I landed the big but very fun and rewarding task of creating an apron for our school this year. Sadly, I forgot to take photos of the apron in action on the day but will try to get some soon to come back and add here. 
Similar to the concept of a lucky dip, it is an apron worn generally by a teacher from the school. The full skirt of the apron is covered in 100 little pockets and in each of them is a treasure that the children can pick for a small fee.

Countless heavenly hours were spent stitching and making felt mice, babies to lie in walnut shells, little dolls, felted snakes and other items.

Here's a peek at the little friends I slightly reluctantly handed over but then delightedly watched the children discover on the day.